OLD PENN STATION

In celebration of one of New York City’s vanished glories, Low recreates in words and pictures the ornately decorated, girders-and-glass-ceiling wonder that was old Penn Station. In the text, he covers its history, from construction as a depot for the once-mighty Pennsylvania Railroad to its demolition and far less imposing replacement in the mid-1960s; the full-bleed paintings add impressionistic backgrounds, with hazy scenes of commuters lit by sunlight or lamps, passing through or lingering below soaring architectural spaces. Noting that the destruction of this “palace” created such a public backlash that the Landmarks Preservation Commission was formed—in time to save another gem, Grand Central Station—Low closes with the thought that buildings can be powerful symbols, “the heart and soul of all great cities.” Young readers, New York residents or not, will be more likely to look up the next time they’re downtown, and to understand that every structure has a unique story. (Picture book/nonfiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-8050-7925-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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A fair choice, but it may need some support to really blast off.

TINY LITTLE ROCKET

This rocket hopes to take its readers on a birthday blast—but there may or may not be enough fuel.

Once a year, a one-seat rocket shoots out from Earth. Why? To reveal a special congratulatory banner for a once-a-year event. The second-person narration puts readers in the pilot’s seat and, through a (mostly) ballad-stanza rhyme scheme (abcb), sends them on a journey toward the sun, past meteors, and into the Kuiper belt. The final pages include additional information on how birthdays are measured against the Earth’s rotations around the sun. Collingridge aims for the stars with this title, and he mostly succeeds. The rhyme scheme flows smoothly, which will make listeners happy, but the illustrations (possibly a combination of paint with digital enhancements) may leave the viewers feeling a little cold. The pilot is seen only with a 1960s-style fishbowl helmet that completely obscures the face, gender, and race by reflecting the interior of the rocket ship. This may allow readers/listeners to picture themselves in the role, but it also may divest them of any emotional connection to the story. The last pages—the backside of a triple-gatefold spread—label the planets and include Pluto. While Pluto is correctly labeled as a dwarf planet, it’s an unusual choice to include it but not the other dwarfs: Ceres, Eris, etc. The illustration also neglects to include the asteroid belt or any of the solar system’s moons.

A fair choice, but it may need some support to really blast off. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-18949-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: David Fickling/Phoenix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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An evocative picture-book bildungsroman with equally atmospheric illustrations.

FARAWAY THINGS

A found “faraway thing” becomes a turning point in the life of a boy.

“Lucian live[s] with his mother on a windswept shore.” His father has been absent from their lighthouse home for long enough that Lucian worries his real memories of him are fading. After a storm, Lucian combs the beach for what his father had called “faraway things”—objects tossed up by the sea—and finds a cutlass. Thrilled, he plays with it, sweeping and slashing the air. The next day dawns foggy, but when it lifts Lucian spies a stranded sailing ship. As he watches, a rowboat is lowered from the ship and moves toward him. The captain steps ashore, wearing a sheath that matches the cutlass. He tells Lucian the cutlass belongs to him, but in trade, the captain will let Lucian select anything from his treasures. Lucian reluctantly realizes the cutlass belongs to the captain and agrees. At the ship, the captain shows Lucian wonderful things and advises him to “choose wisely.” Lucian does. This bildungsroman’s timeless and slightly otherworldly feel is underscored by its illustrations’ muted, effective palette of earth, sea, and sky tones. Unusual perspectives—an ingenious choice for a muted palette—create visual stimulation, showing views from both above and below the horizon line. Satisfyingly, the endpapers allegorically start and finish the story. The captain has dark skin; Lucian and the others have light skin.

An evocative picture-book bildungsroman with equally atmospheric illustrations. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-49219-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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